.. d another were the heart was removed without anesthesia (Dekel 70). Many children also died from brain operations or were paralyzed by spinal operations. If the specimen were to die, their organs would be sent to Verschuer for further examination. There were a few cases were the head of a victim was sent (Astor 101).
As cruel and painful as these operations were, the result was often a fairly quick death – other experiments did not have the same effect. The most notorious of Mengele’s research was with eye coloration. Mengele wanted to create the perfect Aryan race – children with striking features possessing blond hair and blue eyes. To do this, he needed to understand the genetics behind eye coloration. Mengele would try to alter the color of the twins’ eyes by introducing different fluids. He would either inject these fluids with a shot into the eye or by using eye drops (Dekel 65). He tried to inject dyes, methylene blue, bleach and other agents into the eyes.
Of course the result was only pain and infection, in one case blindness, and in one case death (THHP par.8). Hedvah and Leah Stern remember, “One day, we were given eye-drops. Afterwards, we could not see for several days. We thought the Nazis hade made us blind” (Dekel 66). His obsession with eyes led to his collection.
There are eyewitness accounts of an entire laboratory wall that was covered with human eyes “pinned like butterflies” (Astor 98). Mengele also subjected his twins to experiments studying infectious diseases. He would inject lethal germs into his twins to study their reactions (Josef Mengele par.3). Mengele injected typhus and tuberculosis, along with other fatal diseases, just to see how long it would take for the patients to succumb to the disease (Lynott screen 3). Once a specimen died, through any means, their remains were taken to Mengele’s pathology lab. The final step of all Mengele’s experiments was always a post-mortem examination (THHP par.6).
In some reported cases, the post-mortem exam was administered with the child still alive (Gilbert 688). Mengele did not spend all his energy on the twins. He was also very interested in midgets, dwarfs, hunchbacks, and any other abnormalities. Mengele conducted most of the same tests on these specimens as he had his twins, but the people with these abnormalities suffered other tortures. In the case of the Ovitch family, a group of seven dwarfs and three children of normal height, Mengele made the family perform circus-type acts fully nude in front of a large gathering of SS officers and camp guards – some were sexually abused (Gilbert 689).
As a doctor at Auschwitz, Mengele rarely offered treatment to those who were sick. Mengele would often examine the hospital facilities and infirmaries at Auschwitz. For prisoners, illness involved great risk – if weak and ill they served no labor purpose to the Nazi’s. During Mengele’s examinations he would require the inhabitants to rise for roll call. Anyone to weak to stand for this was sent to the gas chamber.
His treatment for any disease that might cause an epidemic was simple. If even only one prisoner showed symptoms of a contagious disease every inmate in that barrack would be gassed and the barrack disinfected (Astor 75). He was known to do this on over thirty occasions. Especially disturbing to Mengele was typhus. It seemed Mengele had an almost phobic reaction to symptoms that even hinted at typhus (Astor 75).
It is said that during the summer of 1943 Mengele himself came down with either typhoid or typhus and spent a month recuperating (75). Upon his return, Mengele was determined to eradicate all sources of infection. This led to more mass gassing. Mengele sent these groups to death because they scared him, but there is one group of people Mengele actually is said to have enjoyed sending to the gas chambers. Pregnant women of Auschwitz had the most to fear of Dr.
Mengele. Women became aware of Mengele’s attitude and started to hide their pregnancies (Astor 80). Pregnancy at Auschwitz meant certain death to both mother and child, if the child were even given a chance to be born. Mengele tried to boast his “humanitarianism” in having these women killed. He would say how Auschwitz had no facilities for newborns (Dekel 80). A child was allowed to be born in the case of one girl who eluded Mengele with her pregnancy for seven months.
To punish the mother for tricking him, Mengele bound her breasts so she could not nurse the child. The mother laid in torment listening to her child’s cries of hunger for days until a prisoner on the hospital staff helped her administer a strong dose of morphine to kill the child (Astor 82-83). Other prisoner hospital workers began administering abortions to women before Mengele could learn of their pregnancy. In cases where the pregnancy was too far along for abortion the child would be killed at birth and the mother told the child was stillborn (Astor 81). These abortions were extremely painful.
There was no anesthesia administered and the only instruments were the two hands of the nurse or doctor administering the abortion (81). By the time the Russians liberated Auschwitz Menegle had disappeared. He was spotted at Mauthausen shortly after, but when it seemed the Russians would soon control that death camp also he left his SS uniform behind and took on the role of a soldier of the Wehrmacht (Dekel 102). The unit later surrendered to American troops and Mengele became a prisoner of war. At this time he began using an extra set of identification papers a friend had given him under the name of Fritz Ulmann.
Mengele changed the papers to read Fritz Hollman and was released from the POW camp by soldiers who saw no evidence he had been in the SS (103). After this, Mengele began a long trail that no one could ever quite catch up with. The cruelty of Mengele’s actions will never be understood by anyone who was not a part of it. There is no way to describe in a few pages the terrible physical and psychological torment Dr. Mengele’s “patients” endured. Unfortunately, all of his experiments and torment left the world with no practical information. Mengele was quite unsuccessful in his goal to unlock the secrets of genetic engineering.
As surviving Mengele subject Alex Dekel states, “I have never accepted the fact that Mengele himself believed he was doing serious work – not from the slipshod way he went about it. He was only exercising his power” (Lynott screen 3). It is almost impossible to imagine any person capable of committing such cruelty and having such disregard for human life, yet it is necessary to strive to understand what motivates such a person to do these things. Unbelievably, genocide and ethnic cleansing are still taking place in the world today. At least six million people died because the world turned its head to what the Nazis were doing.
How long can this continue. History.